As always I enjoyed this book immensely. There are very few by Tamora Pierce that I dislike, ever since I picked up Alanna, way back when. And all in all this 'prequel' to the world of Tortall was as satisfactory as the rest.
I like how the story finishes up with a touch of romance as satisfying as any 'adult' novel. The general adventure was equally fun, and satisfying. Although a little draggy at points, it was never hard to read past those, gathering the 'flavour' of the world while you're at it. (And lets face it, if those parts were cut out, the whole 'hunt' would have progressed a bit TOO fast)
Again, loved the characters, Pounce in particular, but he's always been a favourite. Even Achoo seemed to have more personality this time, perhaps aided by the occasional 'translation' by Pounce.
My only 'gripe' about this book is the end. The traitor turning up was NOT a happy point for me. After getting used to this character all the way through book one, I was not a happy reader to see them turn traitor, and come to a bad end. Although, perhaps that is kind of the point that while we get a happy ending, they don't always come without a bit of bitter to throw in the mix. I just have a hard time thinking that the traitor would have been so stupid as to fall into the whole plot like that. Then again, even in real life, good, smart people do idiotic - and sometimes terrible things in their blindness.
But yeah, while I loved the book over all, the whole traitor bit at the end sort of left me with a not-so-satisfied feeling at the end. Still a good addition to the collection of books by this author, though.